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The value of Black men? just north of zero


OK. It has been done and won’t be undone. An American took another young American’s life and was acquitted of any criminal responsibility for it. A lot has already been said on the issue, maybe too much. My two cents is very, very short. The prosecution lost, the defense did not win. The defense did control the narrative and that was what the jury bought and depended on, not whatever narrative the prosecution tried to present. Martin is dead, yet Zimmerman was able to be protrayed as the victim who was justified in shooting an unarmed teenager. The value of young Black men in America just got reconfirmed as just north of zero.

True, that’s not the view of all Whites. It is, however, far too easy to view and act towards young Black men as dangerous, volatile and always suspicious. Partially, that’s the fault of us all to have allowed it to get to his point. Partially, it is the fault of this young generation. It has lost control of its own image. Too many half-hanging pants. Too many public conversations spewing the B- and N- words. Too many instances of shooting each other in the face. The truism is still accurate: consistent and demonstrated public self-disrespect and negative self-worth equals a consistent demonstrated public disrepect of one in return. This is not cultural rocket science. Culturally, one and one is still two.

Will we rise above this or sink lower? That is the question. The local Crenshaw protesters are, hopefully, not a harbinger. Hundreds roamed aimlessly up and down the boulevard, interrupting traffic, committing random acts of vandalism, stealing a few items out of Walmart, and pummeling a few people who wandered into their space. Eventually many just went home, and several went to jail—nothing was accomplished except a loud venting. We can only hope Eric Holder chooses to file a federal civil rights case, as the government had to do in the Rodney King situation.

Secondly, this column is about the president’s appointments to help him get the public’s business done. The U.S. Senate just emerged from a very rancorous argument regarding the GOP’s continuing obstructionist behavior in not letting the Senate have a yes-no straight up vote on confirming a large percentage of Obama’s nominees to top government positions. Virtually none of the president’s judicial nominees to the federal appeals court have been confirmed, with representatives routinely blocking the nominations by threatening a filibuster.

Currently, the president has to nominate 1,200-2,000 executive positions in the federal government. That’s lot of vetting paperwork and Senate interviews. A new 2012 law removes 163 of these positions from Senate confirmation, mainly assistant secretaries. The president can now appoint these positions alone. Meanwhile, the Senate Republicans just go on their merry way, blocking as many of the president’s nominations as possible for various nefarious reasons, or for no reason at all.

For those still interested in a fully functioning government, I suggest you gird your loins for the upcoming elective fights looming in 2014. You won’t get any better government until you change many of those in position now who refuse to actively work on the public’s behalf.

Get energized and let’s get something done. Aimless wandering around, and empty venting at “corrupt politicians” will get us nothing different from what we now have.

Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.

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